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Germany

Critiquing Germany's Immigration Law

Representatives of the federal, local and state governments met in Berlin this week to discuss the implementation of the new immigration law and its shortcomings.

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The new law hasn't helped to give immigrants permanent status

The new law that's meant to streamline immigration procedures, improve the integration of immigrants and ease entry for skilled workers in certain sectors is too restrictive, according to members of government-sponsored immigration commission.

It fails to abolish a temporary status that keeps thousands of refugees in limbo, and doesn't fully address integration and naturalization issues.

For example, about 200,000 refugees have up till now received limited residency status --called a Kettenduldung -- a legal limbo that excludes both a permanent residency permit and deportation. The commission said that the new immigration law needs to abolish this status with refugees more easily able to receive a residency permit.

Since January, when the law came into effect, the federal immigration agency hardly grants any permanent residency permits anymore and is extending the temporary ones.

Marieluise Beck, Ausländerbeauftragte, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen

Marieluise Beck

"The fact that this Kettenduldung has not been done away with is inconsistent and shows the true intention of lawmakers," said Marielouise Beck, the federal government's migration commissioner.

Immigration policy needs rethinking

Volker Beck, a Green party member of parliament, blamed German Interior Minister Otto Schilly for this, saying that his bureaucracy that has successfully "boycotted" the humanitarian implementation of the law.

Immigration experts also urged a rethinking of policies to better reflect the realities of immigration and cultural diversity.

Bundesminister Otto Schily mit dem ersten Jahresgutachten des Zuwanderungsrates

Schily persented the migration commission's first report last October

"The integration of foreigners in Germany must be, in the future, more than just paper pushing over where and how they are to live," said Marieluise Beck. These days, every fourth newborn in Germany has a foreign parent, making the debates over a multicultural society rather superfluous, she added.

"Schools, hospitals, old-age homes, the workplace, they all must be in the position to be able to deal with diversity and must open themselves to it," she said.

Need more integration courses

Representatives also took issue over the integration courses that were introduced for foreigners in January: There is more interest than available slots, Beck said.

According to the new law, each immigrant has the right to take part in such a course. At the same time, foreigners who don't take the course or who drop out can expect sanctions. Beck and her colleagues say that the government needs to create more of these courses. The government has allotted about 264 million euros ($331 million) annually for the classes.

Another complaint was the failure of the government to address naturalization issues, particularly one affecting young Turkish men. In this case, their naturalization is hampered because of the compulsory military service demanded by Turkey, representatives said. Such recruits can buy their way out of doing military service but it costs 10,000 euros, a sum few can pay.

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